1. what is "real"? Even as "real" humans we project on to our world enormously. But what and how experience it, the kind of intelligence we have in this type of experience is called "human". And we see it as very real. Yet an animal/insect in the same space has a very different "reality". Are they not both real for each type of being? Which one is "just a state of mind"?
I knew I should have left the word "real" out of the title....I just wanted a practical, clear answer about Buddhist cosmology which avoided hair-splitting.
Let's say that there is a category which is called "real enough" to avoid the difficulties of the absolute idea of "reality." What makes something "real enough" to me, is that all my senses get a huge amount of sensory information from it and I can interact with it. My dreams are not "real enough" to me because the images are often not clear and I rarely experience tastes or smells in my dreams; it's this lack of sensory input that makes them not "real enough" for me.
4. We can even inhabit the same space as other beings and have totally different experiences, why does a geographic location matter?
Because right now, as an ordinary human being, I have a geographical location. I understand other concepts in relation to what I am now. Location is central to human thinking.
The key question is whether hell is a physical place (perhaps populated by non-human beings), or just a poetic way of describing the ordinary animal and human suffering on this planet (i.e. "The tiger fell into a volcano and is experiencing extreme pain so we could label that experince as 'hell.'")
5. Do we really for one minute believe that Buddhist cosmological models are meant to be geographical?
I don't know. Some people seem to. I haven't made up my mind yet.
7. Is it true that if we can't see it, it doesn't exist?
Of course not. I never stated that I think hell does not exist. I'm just trying to understand its nature, its location, and the nature of the beings which exist there.